On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 98-12-2433.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 22, 2010
Before Judges Rodríguez and Yannotti.
Defendant Nicholas Kyriazis appeals from the denial of his first petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
In April 2003, defendant was convicted, following a jury trial, of second degree armed burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2; first degree robbery of Helen Imperatore and Margaret Madden, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; second degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3; third degree criminal restraint, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2; fourth degree possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d; second degree conspiracy to commit armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:15-1; second degree conspiracy to commit armed burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:18-2; second degree conspiracy to commit theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:20-3; second degree dealing in stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7.1b; second degree conspiracy to deal in stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:20-7.1b; second degree receipt of stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7; third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (Xanax), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (heroin), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1).
Judge Eugene H. Austin granted the State's motion to sentence defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender, merged several convictions and imposed terms aggregating seventy years with a thirty-seven year parole disqualifier and a seventeen-year NERA*fn1 parole disqualifier. These terms were to run consecutively with another sentence that defendant was serving in Ocean County. We affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Kyriazis No. A-5626-01T4 (App. Div. Feb. 28, 2005), certif. denied, 183 N.J. 591 (May 23, 2005).
The convictions stem from a home invasion and armed robbery of two elderly women. The evidence is set forth in our opinion on direct appeal. These are the relevant facts. On June 1, 1998, Helen Imperatore and Margaret Madden, Imperatore's house assistant, were watching television at Imperatore's residence. Around 9 p.m., Imperatore went upstairs to go to bed. Madden subsequently heard "running" footsteps in the kitchen and two men came through the doorway, wearing stockings over their heads and gloves. Madden differentiated between the men as "taller and shorter." The taller man, who was described as white, and later identified as defendant, grabbed, choked and covered Madden's mouth. Madden was instructed not to speak. The shorter male, later identified as co-defendant Mark Vassos, held a six-inch knife to Madden's throat. The two men demanded money. She replied that she did not have any money. Defendant and Vassos told her that if she did not give them the money, then she would "die tonight."
Vassos went into Madden's bedroom and removed all the bureau drawers and dumped them. He did not find money in her bedroom. Madden disclosed that there was $25 in her pocketbook. Defendant asked Madden whether there was anyone else in the house. Madden initially denied that anyone else was in the house but she eventually disclosed that Imperatore was upstairs. Defendant ordered Madden to accompany them and dragged her up the stairs.
Imperatore awoke and saw two men possessing six to eight-inch hunting knives in their hands. The two men ordered Madden to kneel down and threw Imperatore to the floor after she attempted to push the men. Imperatore stood up and was then hit in the head with a flashlight three times. Imperatore indicated that there was $500 in a drawer. The intruders demanded more money. Imperatore was able to view Vassos's face through the stocking.
After ransacking the bedroom, Vassos used stockings to tie Madden's and Imperatore's hands behind their backs. Imperatore was able to untie herself. She called 911. The robbery yielded between $80,000 and $90,000 worth of jewelry, and $170,500 in cash.
The following day, defendant contacted Trifon Nomidis, the owner of Creations Between Us, a Newark jewelry store, and told him that he robbed "two old ladies in Fort Lee" and stole $250,000. Trifon appraised the jewelry for defendant. Defendant left without the jewelry. Shortly after, Newark and Bergen County police officers arrived and Trifon gave the officers consent to confiscate the jewelry. Trifon pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property.
Defendant visited George Kyriazis, his older brother, subsequent to the robbery. George testified that defendant arrived at his house in a green Dodge Stealth and disclosed that he obtained a large sum of money and instructed George to watch the news because "[s]omething happened in Fort Lee." Defendant displayed to George rolls of bills in a CVS bag and disclosed that he left the jewelry with "Trifon" at Creations Between Us.
Imperatore agreed to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individuals who committed the robbery. After seeing the award advertised on television, George contacted the Fort Lee Police Department and disclosed that his brother committed the crime. George informed the police that ...